Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is college required for you to find "it"?

You always have some students who say, ‘I don’t want to go to college; But they don’t realize whatever it is in life, they need to go to college for it.” Martin Copland (no relation to me)

This is a quote I read recently in an article about plans to encourage more students to attend college out of high school. The quote was from a high school guidance counselor.

First as a parent of a high school junior I want to make it very clear that we strongly believe the path to our son’s lifelong career success will pass through college. We are blessed that he already has decided his future career and is working now to ensure he is gaining skills that will help him in college and beyond.

I also understand and recognize that the evidence clearly shows that college graduates over a lifetime will have a higher income and experience many other benefits.

With all of this in mind, I nonetheless could not help but get angry over the quote. I just hate to think of the poor kid with a dream to work with his hands and make a good living as a mechanic, welder or in a manufacturing industry having a dream crushed by such a statement.

College is outrageously expensive and there are many kids that go just because it is the right thing to do and years later find themselves in thousands of dollars of debt. Many graduate with soft degrees that give them no real skills for the marketplace or worse yet due to not knowing what they want they leave no degree at all due to having dropped out of school.(and still thousand of dollars in debt)

Wake up folks!  There are plenty of options for the young person not seeking to go to college. The key is to provide them with support and guidance to find the right fit for who they can be.

Need some ideas?  Here is an article about forty high paying jobs that do not require a degree.

What do you think?  Can someone be a success without going right to college after high school? Is it possible to effectively encourage kids to attend college while also encouraging the non-college bound kid to find a good career? 

Rant over....

Oh and by the way, I am very thankful to live here in Oklahoma where we have extensive help for kids dreaming of College thanks to the Oklahoma Promise program. Our school district is helping to make the process even easier by providing better and free access to the ACT test. We also have one of the nation’s best career tech programs for many non-college options. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cubicle Man!

I am not much of a TV watcher and it seems when I do take time to flip through the current cable offerings all we seem to have any more are reality shows. Interestingly, many of the popular shows are about people that have jobs and lives of danger and excitement.

Who would have imagined years ago that there would be an audience for shows about fishermen, lumberjacks, Alaska cabin dwellers, and redneck country folks.

I spend my day in a cubicle. The overall level of excitement of reading e-mails, attending conference calls and enduring endless meetings is somewhat lacking.

Perhaps I need to star in my own show. “Cubicleman!?” “E-mail Dynasty!?” “Conference calls: The Last Frontier!?” I could set up a GOPRO camera and record every exciting moment.

Up at 530! Work by 0700! Lunch at desk while working! Out by 530! My day would be riveting I am sure for others to observe.

Most if these shows are popular because people long to escape their own mundane and sterile lives to have adventure and challenges. We were born for adventure—climb mountains, fight battles, solve problems and to conquer.

Anything less brings boredom and a wandering spirit.

Let me offer a cure. Look into the world around you and find your own adventure. There is joy and excitement in our everyday lives. You just have to notice it.


Go enjoy life. After all, as I used to tell my son, “only boring people get bored”.  It is your choice. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

How we became 100% debt free

Last month our family achieved an important milestone in our lives. We dropped in the mail our final house payment to become 100% debt free!

I have to be honest. Much of my obsession over saving and being debt free has been driven by a fear of the future.  What would my family do if the cancer were to come back? What burden would I leave them? How would my son go to college? What happens if I were to lose my job?

Sometimes fear can be a good thing if in end the end it brings hope.

So how did we get here?  It is far easier than you might think.

Don’t buy stuff you can’t afford!             

Sounds like common sense doesn't it? Common sense unfortunately is just not common practice for most people.  Key here is having discernment between what you need to have and would like to have. If you don’t have the money just don’t buy it. Pretty simple huh?

Live below your means! 

When we were looking for our house I remember seeing many homes for sale from people our age who were clearly over their heads. It was easy to tell these folks by the leftover college furniture and yards with no fence. As the Realtor would push us to what the bank said we could buy we pushed back and stuck to our goals.

Save, save and save some more!

The key here is consistency and commitment. One of the best strategies is to set up automatic saving through your 401K and other auto savings options. It is easier not to spend money you never had and a good savings ensures you are ready for the emergencies in life.

Really the ultimate key to our debt free success it that Michelle and I are completely on the same page with our financial goals and we have been willing to think long term vs going for the fun of the moment.

What a feeling it is to know we can now start to build a legacy and no matter what the world may throw at us. We are prepared.

You can do it too! Just start small and begin right away.

Need some education?  I would highly recommend Dave Ramsey as his talk show and philosophy have influence us greatly. Follow his baby steps plan and you too can be debt free!


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Power of Encouragement

One of the things you hear marathon runners talk about is “the wall”. This is the moment around mile 20 or so when many people reach that critical point where a physical and mental choice is made. The choice revolves around continuing to run, walking, or for some just plain quitting.

I can remember hitting this moment during my fist marathon several years ago.

It was somewhere around mile 22 and after three and a half hours of running. It seemed most of the people around me at this point were walking or doing a little run/walk combo. To say we were running at this point was a bit of stretch.

Oh how I longed for the pain end and to join the comfort of those who were walking.
One cool thing at the Dallas White Rock Marathon is that if you are a first time marathoner you have a different number you wear so that anyone will know you are a first timer.  

Here back at the end of the pack there were several of us first timers.

As my desire to stop was reaching a crescendo, a first timer that was slightly ahead of me had started walking. There on the corner standing alone was a friendly spectator that saw this and shouted, “Hey first timer! Come on! You are almost there and looking good! Don’t start walking! Go for the finish!”

These words were not intended for me. 

The person of intention kept on walking.
 
But for me it made a difference.

Her words right at that moment encouraged me to keep moving and to reach the goal I had spent so many months working towards. I was just four miles from completing my dream to run a marathon and I was not about to stop running now thanks to some kindness that was not even intended for me.

The lesson I learned from this moment is that we can never really know the power of our positive attitude. We may miss the mark with the person we intend to help at the time but may be setting an example unknowingly to help someone else. Part of me also hopes that walker soaked in the encouragement and later crossed the line in triumph.


Don't give up. It just takes a small step to move forward.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hello My Name Is.....

Hello my name is…..

Regret, stupid, mistake, loser, ugly, fat, defeat

For many people the labels we wear in our hearts about who or what we think we really are can be completely debilitating. Many are self-created for no real reason at all while others are the result of false assessments placed on us through the ignorance and meanness of others.

I am 46 yet in my head on bad day I can see very clearly the time as a second or third grader when in a moment of self defeat I etched “dummie” on  a brick outside the west side of our house. That moment and that word haunted me for years as not only did it continue to echo in my head but later I realized it would not come off the brick. I had created a false label. 

I think we all do this. We etch labels so deeply in our hearts that we just can’t seem to remove them. Then for some to feel better they transfer these labels to others in an effort to feel better.  I know way too many people that hate themselves and then in turn spend too much time pulling down the world around them.

I will be taller by making those around me smaller.

As Matthew West so successfully reminds us in his song we are not in many cases who we might think. Do not believe the lies. You (and I) have been placed on this world for a reason.

You can and will make a difference for your future. You can leave your past behind.

Hello
Person of influence
Successful employee
Go getter
Loving parent
Devoted spouse
Faithful servant of God


It is wonderful to meet you. 

What is your label?  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Wal-Mart sucks and so do I

Like many people I know, I avoid shopping at Wal-Mart as much as possible. I loathe the dozens of cashier stations with typically just a small percentage open. I cringe at the thought of using the terrible self-service kiosks that always seem to crash when I use them while gleefully exclaiming, “item not found in bag” when I try to pay. Oh the agony.

Then of course there are the people of Wal-Mart. It seems the store brings in a lower class of poorly dressed and equally poorly behaved people shopping in pajamas, house shoes and no bras.
Give me the high class folks of Target or a locally owned store any day.

Just other day the son and I were forced to shop in Wal-Mart together for an item that could not be found anywhere else. We bravely fought the holiday crowd while at the same time gaining great amusement feeling good about ourselves by making fun of the people in the store.
Huh?

I was no further away from the store than the parking lot when the whole thing came crashing down on my heart.

What kind of man am I to judge any person other than the one I see in the mirror every morning? I know that guy pretty well and it seems he fails a lot and has a good number of issues.  What kind of father am I as well to encourage my teen son through example to be as low as I am by making fun of people we have never met.
This turned into a teachable moment as I asked my son to forgive me for this behavior. I told him Dr. King had it right when he said we should judge people by the content of their character and not as they appear or as we might perceive based on prejudgments.   

How easy it is in life to feel taller by making those around us smaller? Aren't we called by God instead to become the least if we want to become greatest?
In the end I am thankful for the lesson that day as it reminded me how far I have to go if I am to become the man I was born to become.